Bad News For Canada’s Sports Betting Bill

It has been reported that Bill C-221, popularly referred to as the Canada sports betting bill, will be voted against by the Federal Liberals. The bill had raised hopes of a more congenial betting environment when it was tabled some months ago. But now there is a sense of déjà vu.

Bill C-221, if passed, would amend Criminal Code’s paragraph on sports betting in Canada making it lawful for the provincial governments to conduct and manage a lottery scheme that involves betting on a race or fight or on a single sport event or athletic contest. The present Canadian federal law allows only parlay betting. In this form of sports betting, punters have to bet on the outcome of more than one event at a time and have to predict all outcomes correctly in order to win. There are not many takers for this system and punters prefer to take their money to offshore online sports betting sites.

Brian Masse, a member of the New Democratic Party from Windsor West in Ontario, expressed his disappointment at this news. He had secured seventh place in the Canadian parliamentary lottery system that determines the order in which private members can propose bills. This has enabled the bill to be tabled as early as it has. Masse said that the new Canada sports betting bill would increase the revenues of the cash strapped provinces by preventing the betting money from flowing to overseas operators.

Sean Casey, Liberal member of the Canadian House of Commons, spoke on behalf of his party. He cited the concern that single event betting would ruin the integrity of sports. "It is possible, as suggested by many sports leagues, that legalizing single-event sports betting could encourage gamblers to fix games," he said. Casey also argued that legalized sports betting would lead to more gambling addiction, citing a report by the Centre for Addiction.

Masse rebutted the stand taken by the liberals on several counts. Bill C-290, which was similar to Bill C-221 in many respects, was introduced in 2012. This bill was passed in the House of Commons with full support of the Liberals. Unfortunately, the Senate was unable to ratify it before the federal election that fall and the bill died. Masse pointed out that Casey had actually spoken in favour of the bill at that time. He added that Casey’s arguments against the bill were based upon information that was more than three years old. Punters in Canada will follow the developments on Bill C-221 very closely.

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